The “smartest week” in Toronto

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These days Toronto was the Smartest city on the planet. The iconic Canadian city hosted SMART WEEK 2014, an event essentially directed at the Internet of Things, which is “becoming a fruitful base of devices, sensors and computing power”, gathering consumers, business-to-business and governments.

The problems related to privacy, security and protocols were the dominant issues of the event, with some of the leading minds and worldwide specialists in scientific computing, mathematics, emerging technology industry, etc.

One of the speakers, Ann Cavoukian (Executive Director of the Institute for Privacy and Big Data of the Ryerson University), presented a new way of presenting the privacy topic. “We are in the decade of privacy by design”, referring to her project Privacy by Design (www.privacybydesign.ca), which has already been adopted by several countries, governments, enterprises, etc. Ann states that a positive/cooperative atmosphere is needed instead of nullifying concepts “replace vs. by ‘e’…”

 

City of Toronto, human atmosphere

 

SMART WEEK 2014 is an initiative that arises from within the Toronto University, one of the most prestigious in the world and so it´s not strange that it should happen. In the last few years Toronto has signalled to the world that it is a Smart City for real. For example, it offers possibilities that various other cities are merely discussing at the moment. Technological as well as human.

Toronto grants mobility with its system of Bike Sharing and its Public Transit system, which are well established within the community.

The city, which was considered by many as one of the smartest on the planet, has other strong points. For example, its sense of community and humanity.

IMG_7570While strolling through the unbeatable Kensington Market – an iconic neighbourhood full of vintage, hipster, street art and urban paraphernalia, but also the notorious presence of underdogs and the homeless mixing with the young, old, tourists and residents – I witnessed an episode of chewing-gum-spit-on-the-floor. A young person around twenty inadvertently spit out chewing gum onto the floor. Right away, a lady warned him, in an imperative and very angry way even, that this was not sociable acceptable, not even at the Kensington Market, where plenty of walls are painted and covered with graffiti, some empty and inhabited houses and even gloom (if it weren’t Halloween some would even look intentionally decorated). The result was that the young person in question had to recover the tasty ornament from the floor and place it in the right place, in the garbage.

Fantastic human interaction. Moreover, yes, the fact that we are in full municipal election time, with supporters placing posters for the candidates in all the (private) gardens of the city, could contribute to the inhabitants of Toronto’s sense of “civic duty”. Certainly inspired by the television debates that gather local candidates. I have watched one of these debates on TV and more than projects and big expenses with the hardware of the city, the candidates in Toronto speak about the sense of community, solidarity, the absolute need to treat the citizens well for their well-being and happiness. Yes, in this point Toronto is also surprising only for those who are not used to the strictness and humanistic subtlety of the North American population (and not to recall the story of the first settlers which would be a hot topic). The city of Toronto is a guiding light. In all aspects.

 

Humanity VS Technology or Humanity AND Technology

 

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Returning to SMART WEEK 2014. Without a doubt, the mixture of the humanistic sides that I have mentioned – which the city tunes and places on the daily agenda manifested in each moment, on every corner – and the aspects of the pure and simple technology of the Internet of Things, for example, indicates well how far ahead they are of many of those who are dedicated solely to the allocation and adoption of technology in their cities. The idea is not buying technology, the meaning for Toronto is channelling the good that the technology produces to the society in general and if there exists a machine that hybridizes with humans, it is almost certain that it will be created around here.

Smart Week lasted 3 days and took place at the University of Toronto and Investigation Centres of worldwide importance such as MARS. To ally medicine to technology, the city, the citizen and the part that concerned me most: tourism, was a great step forward for the globalized world for both its problems and its solutions. If we will be able to humanize technology or if technology will make us “machines” only the future can tell, but seeing what is happening in the world, the trend is towards a Smart City which is more human than technological in contrast to what has happened in the past. Before humanity needed technology, nowadays, more than ever, it needs humans.

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @ SUSTAINABLE CITIES COLLECTIVE

 

Esta publicação também está disponível em: Portuguese (Portugal)

About Vitor Pereira
Vitor Pereira

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After 20 years of Journalism and Media Professional, I'm dedicated since 2008 to new projects related with Innovation and Technology. Consultant of many municipalities to the Smart Cities theme and Tourism sector based on the newest technologies and communication tools.

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